Home town

by Tracy Kidder

Hardcover, 1999




New York : Random House, 1999.


" ... Kidder reveals the sheer abundance of life contained within a town's narrow boundaries. Does the kind of small town that many Americans came from, and long for, still exist? Kidder says yes, although not quite in the form we may imagine. A book about civilization in microcosm ..."--Jacket.

User reviews

LibraryThing member mojomomma
Kidder shows us all around Northhampton, MA through the eyes of several local characters that call it home. We spend a lot of time with O'Connor, the cop and his criminal drug informant, Frankie. Other colorful characters include the liberal judge, the OCD lawyer who hangs out with strippers, the non-traditionally aged scholarship student at Smith College, and the mayor. We get a sense of Northampton's long history and its prospects for the future, as of the mid-1990's. I was skeptical of this book when I started it, but then i was unable to put it down. You'll recognize something of your own small town here, if you've been fortunate enough to live in one.… (more)
LibraryThing member xmaystarx
Stories about Northampton, MA. Would be of interest probably only if you are from the area.
LibraryThing member banderson1973
A phenomenal view of a small town, with great insight and quality writing.
LibraryThing member molliewatts
An in-depth analysis of a community and the people who sustain it. Kidder uses government documents and anecdotes told personally to him to tell the story of Northampton, Massachusetts through the eyes of several of its citizens. Policeman Tommy O'Connor is the main character, but many others' stories are woven throughout, including those of a struggling single-mother college student; an obsessive-compulsive mogul; and an endearing criminal.

This could be the story of any Main Street, USA town - wars on drugs and the homeless; town hall meetings; protests and demonstrations; college students and skateboarding teens; the rich and the poor. Northampton has a rich history and has been the home of many famous people, including Sylvia Plath, Calvin Coolidge, William Cullen Bryant, and Sojourner Truth - it is also said to be the birthplace of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This is a work of non-fiction, but it reads like fiction.

Warning: Kidder loves words and he uses them profusely - this is not a book you can skim, so it may takea while to wade through.
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LibraryThing member rayette
I learned a bit about the town it's set in, but this book lacks compelling characters or storyline.
LibraryThing member Borg-mx5
Kidder has an incredible style. His personal narratives are compelling and fascinating. Here he views an everyday small town and makes you care about the lives of those he chronicles.
LibraryThing member shazjhb
My new favorite author. I have enjoyed all his books even though I just started reading him this year. His non-fiction reads better than most fiction.
LibraryThing member VictoriaNH
The home town in this book is Northampton MA and I read this book when I was going there biweekly. Because of my personal involvement with the town, I thought the book was interesting in parts, because the town itself is interesting and quirky. However, it is too long and none of the characters in it are very compelling.
LibraryThing member jcbrunner
Tracy Kidder is a splendid writer and great observer of human foibles. In this account of his current hometown, he did not have to venture far to discover his subjects. Northampton, Massachusetts, is an affluent college town of twenty to thirty thousand people with a rather surprising amount of drug-related crime and abuse for such a small community. As Kidder's main protagonist is a cop this may have accentuated the picture he paints. Kidder's coverage of Northampton is, unfortunately, rather sketchy. As upstanding citizens are rather unwilling to see their lives laid bare, Kidder has to rely on government servants (mayor, judge, cop) and the socially deprived and disadvantaged who fail to notice that such social exposure of their quirks isn't to their benefit. The strangest tale in the book is of a mentally disturbed rich recluse whose foibles and life story are exposed to unclear benefit. While Kidder's writing is never dull, the book isn't what I expected - a portrait of modern small town America. A better title would have been: A small town cop and a town's quirky inhabitants.… (more)
LibraryThing member bell7
Northampton is a small town in western Massachusetts with a lot of history and unique local favor. Tracy Kidder takes you through the town in the '90s when its Main Street shops were burgeoning and there was an influx of people from outside joining the lifelong "townies." He tells the story of Tommy O'Connor, who lived in town all his life and became a cop seeing the seedier side of town, Judge W. Michael Ryan of the District Court, scholarship student at Smith Laura Baumeister and more.

These compelling snapshots tell a sort of mosaic of the town of Northampton. Tommy O'Connor's story is essentially the one that connects all the dots, and the other people involved have at least some relationship with him when first introduced, though Kidder gives us more of their story than Tommy could have known from their interactions. Though he's never present as an "I," Kidder's presence is felt as the listening ear for Tommy in the cop car or Alan Scheinman explaining how OCD took over his life. Interspersed in these vignettes are stories from the history of the town, and as a result of the United States, and a glimpse of a small town still existing in today's busy society. The book is about fifteen years old, but I could recognize the town that I've visited several times myself in its pages.
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LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
Gave up on p. 56 for child sexual abuse. Did not expect that, had been hoping all the anecdotes about drug users to that point were as bad as it was going to get. Still, I do like Kidder and will try again with another - maybe Mountains or Machine next.



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